Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel
Pulling off a great interview is important, but it’s only the beginning of your interview process.
Pulling off a great interview is important, but it isn’t the end of the interview process. What you do after an interview is another precious opportunity to make a good impression. Especially if you’re interviewing for a competitive position, it’s important to treat this step of the process with as much importance as you would any other. No matter which firm, agency or company you’re looking to land a job with, there are a few things you should always do after leave the interview room.
Clarify Next Steps and Timelines
This step often gets over-looked by interviewees, but getting clarification on what to expect next and how long the employer anticipates the hiring process to last is very important. If you are interviewing with multiple people like partners or associates from your perspective practice group, save logistical questions for your hiring contact. This will typically be the recruiter or HR contact that reached out to set up your interview.
Though you may expect to automatically receive this information, make sure that if you don’t get this info before you close out the interview interaction, that you ask for it. Doing this will also show that you are taking ownership of the interview experience, are eager to get the position, and plan ahead.
Send a Thank You Note
Your thank you note should be enthusiastic and brief. Be sure you express gratitude for the interview and appreciation of the interviewer’s time, mention a highlight from the interview that really spoke to you or use this note as an opportunity to give more information about you that you think sets you apart, reiterate your interest in the organization and invite the interviewer to request more information.
Many candidates skip this step, but sending a thank you note is a must-do. A recent study based on data from more than 61 million job applications and three million jobs found that, for entry-level positions, only 26% of interviewees sent thank you notes. It also revealed that 63% of hiring managers would be more inclined to select candidates that sent a thank you note, even if they asked for a higher salary, in comparison to candidates that did not send a note, even if they asked for less compensation for the same job.
Though the thank you note is important, so is double-checking for any errors or typos. In the same study of entry-level applicants, 58% of recruiters said that they are often put off by spelling or grammar errors in candidates’ resumes or letters.
The space between the time you finish your interview to the time you hear back from the employer can be filled with anticipation. Keep in mind, the time frame in which you hear back will vary based on things like the employer’s, the urgency to hire and the hiring team’s bandwidth, but no sweat--this is why you’ve clarified the timeline. If you haven’t heard from the employer by the time you expected, it is appropriate to send a polite follow-up email. Following-up can create an opportunity to put your name in front of the interviewers once again and reiterate your interest and initiative. You can also use this communication to update the employer about new information, such as an updated transcript or your professional/academic accomplishments.
In certain circumstances, if you don’t receive a reply to your messages, you can follow up with a phone call if a phone number was provided to you. If you do this, be sure you convey that you appreciate that they may be busy and that you value their time.
Though it is a good idea to follow-up, also make sure that you’re respectful of the hiring organization’s time. Helen Oloroso, Assistant Dean and Director of the McCormick Office of Career Development at Northwestern University, warns that sometimes candidates can sometimes take it too far.
“I’ve had candidates who check in every day or couple days and that’s too much. The hiring manager can begin to form a negative impression, and reaching out too frequently can backfire,” she said. “There’s a fine line between being needy and desperate and engaged and interested.”
So, it is important to find the line between enthusiastic and overbearing. But as long as you do this, following up can mean the difference between the short stack and landing the job.